The Health Commissioner of New York City and a Yale University professor look to expand the nanny state with proposal to tax soda and sports drinks that contain sugar.

In the attempt to save us from ourselves two so-called public health officials are have written a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine in which they claim a penny per ounce tax on sugary drinks could reduce consumption by 10 percent while raising over $1 billion dollars in revenue for the state. 

This is just another money grab dressed up as a public health measure as the State of New York is experiencing a financial meltdown and needs every dollar it can grab. The money grab element of this proposal is obvious; the authors claim this tax could be the biggest boon to the public’s health since the tobacco tax.

Whoa, doesn’t smoking cause hundreds of thousands of deaths per year?  Yet these learned men suggest that the living benefit from taxes levied on people with this deadly habit, and rather than ban tobacco and save countless lives, they would rather tax those who will die from smoking to (somehow) save others. That’s messed up. But back to the soda tax.

Millions of people who aren’t overweight (by whatever arbitrary measure these public health types use) enjoy soda, consume sports drinks responsibly, and shouldn’t be financially punished at the point of sale.  Harbor no illusions, this kind of tax is all about punishing behavior deemed undesirable by the state. The logic used by those who say smoking kills doesn’t apply in the case of soda. 

The anti-smoking zealots position – and even some otherwise level headed folks – is that if you smoke, you’ll die from smoking. However, no rational person can claim that if you drink soda or Gatorade you will get fat or become obese.

If these public health officials had any guts and really wanted to deter consumption, they would propose taxing overweight and obese purchasers of soda and sports drinks, and put scales and Body Mass Index charts at checkout counters in every supermarket and convenience store in New York.  But this kind of action takes courage and wouldn’t generate enough revenue.

These academics propose taxing sugary drinks even though over the past decade, consumption is down yet obesity rates have still risen.  Then there is the question of whether higher taxes reduce consumption.  For example, despite one of the highest cigarette taxes in the country New York still has over 1 million smokers and a booming cigarette black market.

Regardless of who you are, the soda tax is onerous because it imposes someone else’s arbitrary concept of health and fitness on the public.


  1. Aw man, you nailed this one dead on. It’s unbelievable. Same problem here in Montreal and Canada. Everyday some ridiculous legislation is proposed in the name of public safety and protecting the environment.
    What better pretext for the government than health and the environment, huh?

  2. The USDA heavily subsidizes the grain industry, the very industry that produces those ingredients for donuts, sugary snacks and other not-so-healthy “food”, in an effort to provide inexpensive food to the American public (this subsidized grain is also sold overseas and is also used to feed the meat animals we then eat). If the same money were spent on fruits and vegetables the cost of actual nutritious food would decrease while the cost of unsubsidized grain products increased. Ta da! Problem solved. As a side note – has anyone actually gone to a public school in their area and seen the “food” the elementary students are given? My kids are now taking their lunches to school with them.


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